Local terror expert: Recruiting is everywhere

Dr. Scott Bresler, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, is a forensic psychologist who has served as an expert witness on several terrorist or hate-crime related court cases.

He discussed with the Journal-News aspects regarding the terrorism case involving Munir Abdulkader, 21, of West Chester Twp., who was a 2013 Lakota East graduate.

Abdulkader was recruited by an ISIS leader from Syria,, according to federal court documents unsealed Thursday.

Bresler said terrorist organizations are using a lot of propaganda to recruit people like Abdulkader.

“Terrorism recruiting is everywhere on social media, and it is easy for these groups to get their information out there,” he said. “When one social media feed shuts them down, they will find another one to morph their information to.”

Abdulkader pleaded guilty to a bill of information that included a plan to kill police officers at a southwest Ohio police department and record the execution of a member of the military he planned to abduct.

Bresler said it is often hard for law enforcement and professionals who are tasked to study criminal behaviors like himself to work up a profile of what a terrorist is, including identifying someone like Abdulkader, who was a student at Xavier University and not on any criminal watch list.

“There simply is no prototype of who a terrorist is or isn’t,” Bresler said. “If you had a profile of say an immigrant from a foreign country, maybe a Muslim that is disgruntled with the U.S., than you would have hundreds of thousands that would fit that bill. But there is a tiny statistical number of people who fit the bill of Abdulkader that would want to go to the extent he was proposing to go to.”

Bresler said just like any other law abiding citizens, Muslims in this country want to get along with their neighbors and be productive in the community, while helping law enforcement catch those who want to break the law.

“A lot of the intelligence in this country that is handed to threat assessment teams working with various agencies of people come from people in the Muslim community who are worried for their safety and the safety of others,” Bresler said.

Abdulkader told federal investigators that his cousin had died fighting for ISIS and eventually established Twitter accounts to post statements, videos and content expressing his support. He also had a “desire to attain ‘shahada’ (martyrdom),” according to documents.

The ISIS leader federal investigators say Abdulkader was talking online with Junaid Hussain, a man killed by U.S. forces in August 2015. Hussain — court documents spell it as Hussein — had “directed and encouraged” Abdulkader to “plan and execute a violent attack within the United States.”